Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal is reported to have acknowledged the existence of Israel as, in his words, “a matter of fact”. If confirmed it represents a significant softening of stance by the leadership of the Palestinian group.
Meshaal, in an interview with the Reuters news agency, said: “The problem is not that there is an entity called Israel, the problem is that the Palestinian state is non-existent.”
But he added that formal recognition by the group will only be considered when a Palestinian state has been created.
Separately, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas has appealed for calm and unity among Palestinian factions after renewed clashes with rival militants, Fatah.
There has been a surge of killings in recent weeks.